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Government to appoint fashion industry disability champion

Lauretta Roberts
03 December 2018

On International Day of Persons with Disabilities (3 December) the Government is announcing that it will be recruiting a new fashion industry disability champion to help tackle the issues disabled people face as consumers.

The person appointed to the position, the applications for which open today, will have an influential status in the industry and use it to highlight the need for more inclusive clothing ranges and to promote the work of designers in this field.

"Clothing that takes disabled people’s needs into account can be difficult to find, and many fashion retailers are missing out on the custom of a fifth of the population who have a disability or long-term health condition," the Government said.

The new fashion champion will join 14 existing champions from industries such as banking, music and tourism.

“There are nearly 14 million disabled people living in the UK, and our world-leading fashion industry must ensure it is capitalising on the spending power of their households – the Purple Pound – worth £249 billion every year," Minister for Disabled People Health and Work Sarah Newton said.

“Our new champion will promote the commercial benefits of inclusive design which can improve brand loyalty in a highly competitive market, while also ensuring that disabled people can follow the latest trends like everyone else,” Newton added.

Industry champions elsewhere have made significant changes such as music champion Suzanne Bull has launched a new industry taskforce aimed at improving the experience for deaf and disabled customers when booking tickets for live music events.

Johnny Timpson is the disability champion for the insurance industry and Industry Affairs Manager at Scottish Widows. Timpson is bringing together representatives from the insurance industry, regulatory bodies and charities for the first time to look at how to make the industry more transparent and inclusive.

“Walking the talk on diversity is essential for the insurance sector, and my champion role enables me to work with the industry to improve access to affordable insurance for disabled consumers," he said. “Becoming a champion has allowed me to bring key players to the table to agree on a clear set of actions for making the insurance industry more inclusive.”

Some fashion brands are beginning to tap into the market for accessible clothing. Superdry recently unveiled its first windows featuring disabled mannequins as part of its support of the Invictus Games.

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